Fun in Hermosa Beach (Southern California)

snack time

Over the weekend I attended the semi-annual “Fiesta Hermosa” with the kids meeting a friend who I have gone to this event with since before I was married. The town of Hermosa Beach is one of a number of small beach towns in the South Bay of Los Angeles. I enjoy going here in the summer to swim in the ocean since it is cleaner than the beach in Santa Monica. I also enjoy the people in this area as they are more laid back than their counterparts on the Westside of Los Angeles where I have lived for the past 10 years.

carnival ride

During the festival people travel from all parts of town to explore the booths which range from crafts, to food, to rides, and everything in between. I usually find a few deals and on this trip I picked up a decoration for the bathroom in the new place. On this particular visit to “Fiesta Hermosa” the kids were particularly involved in almost everything going on…. I think it’s because they are growing up and have more opinions than they have had in the past. Here are a few photos from our day in the South Bay town of Hermosa Beach.

"healthy" snack time

"healthy" snack time (2)

snack time (2)

another age- another stage (1)

Hermosa Beach Pier

The Strand

the prince of the world

(day 172)

Boxes, Boxes, Boxes are Everywhere!

boxes everywhere

I’m at day 171 and still blogging without a day of interuption! I can not believe it.. or maybe I am starting to believe it. I have quite a few stories to share in the future on the challenges of moving a family of four this past Tuesday… but for today I leave you with a few photos of the challenge that lays ahead of me…. BOXES, BOXES and more BOXES!

I have had a hard time finding clothes for the kids and I for the past two days and hope to at least have the clothes in drawers for tomorrow. I had to wear flip flops to work yesterday since that was the only pair of shoes available. Our kitchen is a complete mess and I had to pack lunch for Malina for the past two days as well as snacks. Yesterday she ended up with two nutella and bagel sandwiches. That is her favorite meal so told met that she enjoyed eating them at school.

I also still don’t have phone, internet and cable service (to watch the ever so important French Open Grand Slam tennis tourneyment). Blogging daily becomes even more challenging when you don’t have access to the internet at home. I do have water and power and lots of love from my family. That should get us to the weekend when I have time to organize a bit!

nutella sandwich

(day 171)

Un Jour en Photos- Le Jardin du Luxembourg (Paris)

I love Paris. I love France. I love the Jardin du Luxembourg. It is one of my favorite places to be period. It is a beautiful spot. It is a peaceful place. I love the palace on the grounds. I love the green metal chairs around the park. I love the red clay tennis courts. I love the pond in the middle with the sailboats. I love the flowers. I love strolling here. I love people watching. I love bringing a snack and just relaxing here. I love all of the memories I have created here over the last 15 years. After visiting here for the first time I have always returned to this spot where I did so much soul searching at one point in my life. I have returned with my friends, with my parents, with my husband, and my children- first Malina and eventually with Matteo too. I can’t wait to return and be a part of this park once again.

after entering the park

playing in the park

walking the park

walking in the park (2)

tour eiffel in the distance

posing with the pond

sailboats (1)

sailboats (2)

sailboats (3)

sailboats (4)

(day 169)

International Travel with Small Children

departing the plane

Friends ask me all the time how we travel with small children. I must admit it is not easy, but very rewarding. We have raised our children to be well behaved, as well behaved as young children can be that is! That makes a world of difference when you travel.

Before Malina’s first trip to Europe we bought her a mini-dvd player. That item was one of the best purchases I have ever made. We loaded her up with tons of of DVDs and made sure that the player had a long battery life (12 hours) and was charged before the trip.

Toys: In the past I have made sure there were plenty of toys available for the plane trip, and diapers, and changes of clothes. It is amazing how many spills small children make. If you are on an airplane for more than 5 hours you better be prepared.

Snacks: Always have food for kids. And you need many choices! They get bored and need variety. Don’t forget to pack some adult snacks as well to help you get through the long voyage too!

on the plane

Packing luggage: I am the worst at packing clothes. I have always packed too much stuff. Through the years I have learned to pack less and less though. I like to use one of the small suitcases for the kids and pack almost everything for the two of them in this suitcase. In addition I travel with a diaper bag which also has an extra change of clothes. My kids love to take turns pulling their suitcase so that makes things easier.

Car seats: Car seats are a must in the U.S.A. I have found from my personal experiences in Europe that this is not always the case. When we drive to the beach in Italy, which is approximately 4 hours from Bologna I make sure those car seats are in their proper place. Taxi drivers sometimes preferred to have small children strapped in with the parent which has worked for us. You can always say that you want to use your car seat and quickly hook up as well. Now on our next trip to Europe both of my kids will be big enough for booster seats! Yes.. I can’t wait.

Strollers: Strollers are a must with all the walking that you do in Europe. I prefer to bring an umbrella stroller and preferably take it on the plane. Some airlines will fight you on this, but most of the time we avoid checking it in with baggage and have never paid an extra baggage fee. We did have a big argument in Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris) last trip about baggage fees for the strollers and car seats, but after a long heated discussion in French the supervisor finally agreed to add the extra items for free. If you child is old enough you can buy a cheap stroller abroad for roughly 20 Euro and avoid the extra item until you arrive to your final destination.

Once your children are happy, you can be happy too, although you may not relax much on the plane trip. Matteo was 2 years old last time we travelled abroad and slept on the plane ride to Europe for two hours I believe. It made for a very long trip, but I kept him occupied and took power naps while he played on my lap. When we arrived to Florence I had so much adrenaline that after a shower and some food I was ready to go for the rest of the day until I night time when I could have a nice long sleep to catch up on the missed hours of sleep.

airport bathroom

(day 168)

A rare treasure – the Nutelleria (Bologna)

outside the nutelleria

On my first trip to Bologna with Max (my husband) we discovered a wonderful little place for treats while walking around downtown. It was in a restaurant behind a statue some guy riding a horse. When I asked Max who that was on the statue he said proudly, Guiseppe Garibaldi. Garibaldi was a famous general and politician in the city.

The restaurant was called the Nutelleria and everything in it was made with Nutella (a delicious hazelnut chocolate spread)! Can you say yummy?? Max and I spent time trying out different items on the cheaply priced menu. Everything tasted great.

I don’t know why but we didn’t make our way to the Nutelleria again until summer 2011. Perhaps we were too busy to check it out again on our previous trip, but to our surprise as we approached the Garibaldi statue there was no Nutelleria to be found. It was closed. Our daughter Malina wanted to cry; she is the biggest Nutella freak in our house.

the menu

For now we must rely on either Canadian Nutella in a plastic jar that we buy at the American grocery or Italian Nutella in a glass jar that we buy from the Italian market near the beach. Wherever the Nutella comes from I must say I am glad that I did have the chance to experience the Nutelleria that once thrived in Bologna.

Update: Doing a little research just now I have discovered that the Nutelleria is still alive, just in a smaller reincarnation without a sign. Had I known this we would have found our way here with the kids! So now that I know about the new location I will make sure that we catch a bus downtown to try out the new place next time we are in town!

**see this blog for the current location of the Nutelleria**

(day 167)

Procrastinating about the move

empty boxes

Okay it is Saturday morning now and the movers will arrive early on Tuesday morning. Let’s see that gives me three days to pack. I have been packing on and off for the last 2 weeks. I have been selling things and giving away things for 4 to 5 weeks. And now I have to get to business and finish everything up. The move has been in my thoughts every morning, so much so that I have woken up the last four days at 4am with difficulty falling back asleep!

I know I can do it; but last night was my night to relax. I went to the refrigerator for a beer after the long day at work and I somehow forgot to restock after I finished my last one. I contemplated going to the store for more, but wasn’t inspired to leave the house again.

I will not only be packing this weekend since it is a holiday weekend here in the U.S.A. (Memorial Day). We will eat barbeque, go swimming in an outdoor pool, and attend a large fair at the beach. Other than those events the long weekend will be devoted to packing, and I will make sure to stop at the grocery for a 6 pack of beer to relax over after spending many hours with boxes, scissors and tape.

I have a friend coming over to help me pack on Sunday – thank you Mia – I need the help. Tomorrow I will attack my room and hope to make great strides. Can you please cross your fingers for me?

For the next few days my blogs will be rather short so that I can focus on packing, but to be truthful I welcome the break from it all to write some and clear my mind. I will revisit sharing moments about the move and our new place in a few weeks after everything is unpacked. (I can dream, right?) Until then, cheers!

(day 166)